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A Time to Reflect on Mary

In this time when we are still in the extended joy of the Easter season, the Church also gives us an opportunity to reflect on the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary within the pages of Scripture and also how she relates to us, the followers of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  It is in the contemplation of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary that we can find a way to follow our Lord Jesus Christ in an ever stronger and more dedicated way.

In each of the places that the Blessed Virgin Mary appears within the pages of Scripture, she always does so in relation to Jesus.  This immediately becomes the first lesson.  Jesus must be a part of everything that we do as Christians, as His followers in the world today.  It is often so easy for us to compartmentalize various aspects of our daily life.  While we certainly might be religious people, who attend church regularly and participate fully in the liturgical, spiritual and social aspects of our local parish, it still might not then bring about a change in how we are living the rest of our lives.  This then is the place where we must strive to allow the presence of Jesus to penetrate more fully into every aspect of who we are and what we do.  We can examine the life of Mary to see the ways in which she followed Jesus.

In this regard, I have always found it meaningful to reflect on the first miracle of our Lord, performed at the Wedding in Cana of Galilee.  I had the opportunity to reflect on it once again in this past week as it was read at a wedding ceremony in St. Stanislaus Cathedral.  The full passage from the Gospel of St. John reads:  “On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  Jesus and His disciples were also invited to the wedding.  When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to Him, ‘They have no wine.’  And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, how does your concern affect me?  My hour has not yet come.’  His mother said to the servers, ‘Do whatever He tells you.’  Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons.  Jesus told them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’  So they filled them to the brim.  Then He told them, ‘Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.’  So they took it.  And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.’  Jesus did this as the beginning of His signs in Cana of Galilee and so revealed His glory, and His disciples began to believe in Him.” (John 2:1-11)

As we read and reflect on this Gospel passage, we see that Mary speaks to us, as followers of Jesus, in several ways.  We see at the beginning of the Gospel passage, that Jesus, Mary and the disciples are all guests at a wedding.  Even this simple fact speaks to us concerning a religious aspect about following Jesus in our daily life.  Jesus didn’t just speak to the disciples and spend time with them when they went to the Synagogue for prayer, but rather, they were a part of each other’s daily lives.  This reminds us that the help and friendship of the people of God must be an important aspect of our daily lives as well.  If we only spend time with our community of faith on a Sunday morning for an hour or two of worship then we are missing out on the wonderful opportunities to strengthen and confirm each other as an active part of our Christian faith.  Likewise Mary and the disciples were there with Jesus.  We too must be willing to have Jesus be a part of all that we do and all that we are.  If we never speak of Jesus and His loving kindness; never invoke His name at moments of joy, or trial, or distress; never use His name as the reason we seek to help others and live more holy lives than it is almost as if we really wouldn’t want to be seen with Him.

Next we hear that while attending this wedding, the wine ran out during the celebration.  Now while we may not consider this a huge problem within our society today, where we could just go to the store and get a little more, this was a cause of great concern here.  This would have caused a great loss of honor for this particular couple and for their entire family as well.  Everyone would have said that they certainly knew this wedding was coming, how could they not have prepared for it?  But Mary, even though she may not have been closely involved in the situation, shows us the way to deal with issues and problems.  She brings them to Jesus. 

Notice here as well that Mary does not bring the problem to Jesus with an agenda.  She does not say, “They have no more wine, and here’s what I want You to do about it.”  Rather she brings the problem and then listens.  This is certainly something with which we as religious people have difficulty.  We can most easily ask God for what we desire in prayer, but we don’t often spend any serious time in prayer, just listening to God’s direction for us in our lives.  This is what Mary does.  She brings the problem to Jesus and then listens.

Mary also comes to Jesus with an obedient heart.  Mary tells those servants who are nearby to Jesus, “Do whatever He tells you.”  It’s not given with conditions, she doesn’t ask for them to check with her first, she doesn’t qualify the obedience in any way whatsoever.  She just says, “Do whatever He tells you.”  And more importantly, she means it.  This attitude was shown by Mary in the “yes” she gave to God at the moment of the annunciation.  It was shown when she stood at the foot of the Cross.  It was also shown in her always being with the infant Church in Jerusalem.

Lastly in this Gospel passage we see the outcome of Mary’s trust and her obedience.  When the wine was taken to the headwaiter, he said that it was better than any of the wine that was served before.  This shows us that when we bring all of the concerns and issues of our life to Jesus, when we listen to Him without qualifications, when we trust totally in Him and also do what He tells us, then good things will happen for us and for those around us.  The good wine was not just for Mary and the disciples or even for the servants who filled the water jars and drew some out.  All of the guests benefitted, and so it will be for us as well.  If only we incorporate our Lord Jesus Christ into every aspect of our daily lives and not exclude Him from whatever we are doing, then good things will be given to us and others. 

Now this is not to say that all of our difficulties will be magically wiped away and we will never have problems any more.  This was not the case for Mary and it won’t be like that for us either.  Mary still had to endure the pain and anguish of seeing her Son go to the Cross.  But it does remind us that beyond that Cross there is also a Resurrection.  It reminds us that because of the presence of Jesus within our lives and our world, things are now transformed, and even the difficulties of life allow us to draw nearer to our Lord.

So as we continue in this Easter season to celebrate the joy that is the triumph over sin and death in the Resurrection of Jesus, let us follow the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Let us bring all that we are to Jesus, our Lord.  Let us listen to His commands and direction for our lives and let us do whatever He tells us.  It is when we stand beside Mary, at the Incarnation, at this miracle in Cana of Galilee, at the Cross and most fully at the Resurrection that we will most fully be with Jesus in His Church.  Not just for an hour of worship on a Sunday morning, but fully with the Church, the body of Christ which always strives for the best for all of God’s people.

In this season of the joy of Resurrection, let’s participate in it most fully by taking the example of Mary.  It is the example of always being with Jesus.

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